Removing marks from dinnerware

Has this ever happened to you? One day you’re minding your own business, setting the table or emptying the dishwasher, and suddenly you notice that your ceramic plates and bowls have what look like grey lines or scratches on them. “Well!” you think to yourself, especially if your dinnerware was expensive, “this is not acceptable!”

Here's what is happening, and what you can do about it.

Plates vs. flatware

What you are seeing on your plates is neither wear nor damage. These are not scratches and they are not permanent. They are simply marks left by your flatware. Many types of stainless steel flatware have this effect on ceramic dinnerware with both matte-finish and high-gloss glazes. There is no correlation with the quality of either the dinnerware or the flatware. We have observed these marks on the finest dinnerware available. They are most noticeable on light-colored glazes.

Everyday magic

We recommend a powdered cleaning product that we have used with great success, called Bar Keepers Friend. It’s available in most supermarkets and hardware stores. Just sprinkle some of the powder on a wet plate and scrub with a sponge or cleaning pad.

You can apply this treatment as often as you like for years and it will not cause any wear on the glaze. It simply removes the marks. In seeking a balance between aesthetics and housekeeping effort, most people find that a quick cleanup with Bar Keepers Friend before dinner parties is all they need.

Below left: Here is a bowl that's been in daily use for years. Isn't it astonishing what we can get used to, and ignore? Below right: We made a line with masking tape and cleaned half of the bowl as described above. It took less than a minute. Rest assured that it is never too late to solve this problem.

If we haven't already spoiled your appetite, click here to see the larger-than-life result.

Dinnerware is (almost) forever

All dinnerware in daily use will eventually show signs of wear. Sharp utensils cause most of the damage; steak knives, for example, will scratch the plate surfaces sooner or later. But even with daily use and lots of steak dinners, you could still be using the same plates 20 years from now. Any marks—permanent or otherwise—may be a minor nuisance but they will not shorten the life of your dinnerware, which should last for decades.

Here's more about Bar Keepers Friend.

Bon appétit!